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A close up of turkey meatballs in a bowl with smoky marinara sauce

Turkey Meatballs

Delicious and healthy turkey meatballs with smoky marinara sauce. Serve with your favorite pasta, over polenta or with couscous and salad
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 -10 people
Calories 167kcal


For the Meatballs

  • 2 lb 93/7 lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup bread crumbs 125g
  • 1 cup grated manchego cheese 113g, plus additional, for garnish
  • ½ cup minced red onion 75g
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh garlic 8g
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika 8g
  • 2 tsp kosher salt 12g
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper 6g
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 30mL

For the Sauce

  • 1 24 oz. jar roasted garlic marinara sauce 680g
  • 1 12 oz. jar roasted red bell peppers, drained 230g
  • 1 slice whole grain bread toasted and torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup smoked salted almonds 50g
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 15mL
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika 4g
  • Couscous quinoa, or salad greens, to serve
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley or basil 30g, for garnish


For the Meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 425F. In a large bowl stir together turkey, bread crumbs, cheese, onion, garlic, eggs, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Line two rimmed sheet pans with aluminum foil; spray with cooking spray.
  • Using a small (1 oz.) scoop or a tablespoon, scoop out meatballs, and place on prepared baking sheets.
  • Drizzle meatballs with olive oil; bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

For the Sauce

  • Meanwhile, in the container of a blender or a food processor, combine marinara, peppers, toasted bread, almonds, olive oil, and smoked paprika.
  • Blend or process until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Reduce heat to low; simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  • Serve meatballs over couscous, quinoa, or salad greens; garnish with additional cheese and parsley.


  • You can prep the meatballs in advance and store them in the fridge covered until ready to be baked
  • If you'd like a little heat you can add fresh or dried chili to the sauce or meatballs
  • If you can't find smoked almonds you can use regular almonds which will help thicken the sauce but you'll lose the smoky flavor
  • Make sure to use fresh garlic and not ground as you won't get the same fresh and bold flavor
  • To keep the meatballs uniform in size use a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon measure
  • If you can't find manchego cheese for the meatballs you can use parmesan but make sure to use freshly grated as pre-grated will dry out the meatballs easily
  • The breadcrumbs help to bind all the ingredients together and also help keep the meatballs moist and juicy so don't skip them
  • Make sure to use large eggs
  • Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer
Food Styling note: The bread and almonds add great richness and flavor to the sauce, but they do yield a slightly chunky texture. Cutting the amounts by half would be an acceptable cheat that would make the sauce behave better, and drape over everything more smoothly.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 600mg | Potassium: 140mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 550IU | Vitamin C: 37.1mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 4.7mg